Occasional Reason contributor Declan McCullagh–he's the author of the cover story about privacy in our forthcoming June issue–detects an anti-technology impulse among the critics of Google's Gmail. Still in its testing phase, Gmail is a free service that "offers 1GB of storage in exchange for displaying automated advertisements based on the text of an e-mail message." He writes:
The objections lodged against Gmail are telling, because they illuminate two different views about how to respond to new technologies. The protechnology view says customers of a company should be allowed to make up their own mind and that government regulation should be a last resort. Privacy fundamentalists, on the other hand, insist that new services they believe to be harmful should be banned, even if consumers are clamoring for them.
"Whether it's on this issue or a host of other issues, the de facto position of many privacy groups–EPIC being the lead–is antitechnology," said Rob Atkinson, vice president of the Progressive Policy Institute. "It's to shut new IT technologies down before we use them."